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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 April 2007, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
French aid worker thanks Taleban
Celine (L) and Eric (R) from a video obtained by Canadian broadcaster CBC
"Celine" was held with another French citizen and three Afghans
A French aid worker released by the Taleban in Afghanistan has thanked her captors for granting her freedom.

The woman, known only as "Celine", also made an appeal for the release of four other hostages, at an emotional news conference in Kabul.

She was kidnapped more than three weeks ago along with another French citizen and three Afghan colleagues.

Earlier a Taleban spokesman said they had extended the deadline for the four captives by another week.

In a tearful statement made just hours after her release, Celine told reporters: "I want to thank those who helped me in France and in Afghanistan."

"I thank the Taliban for keeping their promise and delivering me."

In her appeal for the release of the other hostages she said: "Eric is like me - in Afghanistan as a friend".

"Hashim, Rasul and Azrat are Afghans. They are Muslims. They have children waiting for them."

Earlier, Taleban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi announced that Celine had been released in Maiwand district of Kandahar province.

"We have extended the deadline for the French man and three Afghan hostages for another week," Mr Ahmadi said.

Call for withdrawal

The five, employed by children's non-governmental organisation Terre d'Enfance (A World For Our Children), went missing in Nimroz province, in the south-west of Afghanistan on 3 April.

Map of Afghanistan

In an internet statement on 20 April, the Taleban called for French Nato troops to withdraw and for imprisoned rebels to be freed in exchange for the captives.

"In case of refusal, action will be taken against them [hostages] promptly," a message on an Arabic-language website said.

The Taleban have carried out a number of kidnappings recently, demanding the release of some of their fighters from prison in return for freeing the hostages.

The US and UK criticised a recent deal made with the Taleban by Italy and Afghanistan to secure the release of a kidnapped Italian journalist.

They say the release of five militants in exchange for Daniele Mastrogiacomo, who was freed in March, endangered Nato troops and encouraged kidnappings.

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